Monday, December 19, 2011

Lacrosse Anyone?

Will the Krunch repeat?
The 6th Annual Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions, the boys’ club lacrosse national championships, returns to Wesley Chapel District Park and Wesley Chapel High School December 30, 2011 - January 1, 2012.

This marks the fifth consecutive year the tournament has returned to Pasco County. The three day event is estimated to bring in an economic impact to the area of more than $2 million.

This year’s tournament has expanded to five divisions totaling 80 teams. Last year’s elite champion the Kanienkehaka Krunch (New York) returns as well as the two-time runner-up Road Warriors from North Carolina.  The Krunch were the first US team to win the elite trophy.

The sport of lacrosse was created by Native American tribes and the Kanienkehaka Krunch are from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. In the tournament's previous five elite finals, a team from the lacrosse rich nation of Canada took home the coveted Dick's trophy. 

Twenty states will be represented, along with six clubs from Canada and 16 teams from Florida. Teams will compete in pool play on Friday, and will then be seeded for the championship brackets based on pool play results.  The five national championship games will be held on Sunday, January 1 starting at 8 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. at Wesley Chapel District Park.

For a complete list of the teams and brackets in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions presented by Pasco County log onto For more on Pasco County go to

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Halloween!

One of Pasco County's own, Lawrence Feeney, filmed a short screen story just for Halloween. The short film industry and New Port Richey's past has been buzzing since Feeney and his partners entered the PRISONER 34655 into the Producer's Guild Weekend Shorts Contest at the end of September.

Log on to VIMEO to take a peak at Feeney's film. I'm sure you will see some of Pasco County's finest venues in the flick.

Since we are days away from Halloween we can thank our friends from the Patch at discovering what haunts Pasco County. Please stop there is no inside joke or pun. Keeping with the last blog about the former silent movie stars that graced New Port Richey there's tales of the Richey Suncoast Theater and of past president and patron Willard Clark's spirit roaming the balcony.

Check out the story here.

Happy Halloween Pasco County!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hello Everybody I'm Pasco County!

We are back! Our destination is always boasting about taking a vacation and sometimes the destination's blog takes a vacation. For this post we'll focus on film. Celebrities began flocking to New Port Richey in the roaring 1920s, when New Port Richey residents Mr. and Mrs. George Sims invited friends to visit from Great Neck, New York—a prominent movie and stage colony in the north. Sims Park, along the Pithlachascotee River on the edge of downtown, is named for this couple who introduced so many to the area and truly encouraged the city’s growth.

Cash's former home on the Cotee
Soon after the incorporation of the City of New Port Richey in 1924, Warren E. Burns of New York City began to develop his extensive holdings here. Lots were sold to silent screen idol Thomas Meighan, renowned comedian Ed Wynn, theatrical stars Raymond Hitchcock and his wife Flora Zabelle, movie stars Gloria Swanson and Leon Errol, jazz musician Paul Whiteman, and grand slam champion golfer Gene Sarazen. Meighan was among the first to build a home along the river. Today, boaters can view Meighan’s gatehouse, Swanson’s home, and Sarazen’s riverside residence.

While many expected New Port Richey to flourish as a movie and stage colony in the 1920s, the city never reached this destiny. The 1929 stock market crash and untimely death of Thomas Meighan in 1936 brought an end to such dreams. Nevertheless, New Port Richey did not develop into the Hollywood destination. However, it did lure a music legend like Johnny Cash. Our friends at the PATCH have the story

Lawrence Feeney has a short screen story to tell and you can be a part of it. Feeney is an actor, producer and director that is part of this upcoming weekend's Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest. Feeney is filming a documentary on Pasco County and how the area can be used for all kinds of film projects. Plus, he's producing a short film for the contest that will feature Pasco County actors and destinations. Contact him You never now you could be the next Thomas Meighan or Johnny Depp.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wild Thing’s Eco-Adventure

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” We are not in Oz, but in Dade City on Pasco County’s east side. The yellow brick road leads to Dade City’s Wild Things Zoo. It’s a path winding under a magnificent tree canopy and though a spacious garden on the Stearns’ property. A two mile trolley ride from the gift shop on Meridian Avenue begins your adventure.

Kathy Stearns is your host and she has developed an ecotour that allows hands-on encounters with many of the zoo’s 170 residents. That path winds past various types of monkeys, black bears, tiger and lions. The tour consists of explanations of their various habits and information about their behaviors in the wild. Many of the animals on the property have been rescued or recovered from people who could no longer care for them. Kathy has developed a close bond with each of her residents and it amazing how they respond to her and her staff.

The most popular part of the tour is the one-on-one encounters with some of the zoo’s infant animals. Following the guided tour, you can arrange to have s sit down session with tiger cubs Rajah or Ruari, the shy little foxes, Tippy Cooper and Billy Blue, pet the Roe Deer fawn Buckwheat, or pose for photos with the ever rambunctious snow monkey, JaJay.

One of the newest encounters available is swimming with the tiger cubs.

“This is the only place I know in the world where you can actually get in the water and swim with tigers,” said Kathy. Another idea being developed is opening up the property to tours and events in the vast natural botanical garden. There is room for social events including weddings with tours of the animals as an additional amenity.

Photos of your encounter are available upon return to the gift store. Dade City’s Wild Things is located at Meridian Avenue & 17th Street, 37245 Meridian Avenue, Dade City, FL, 352-567-WILD (9453). Their website is

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Paddling at Two MPH

Pasco's Parks and Rec Director Rick Buckman

A recent planned day-paddle turned out to be both breathtaking and productive. Launching kayaks just south of Aripeka, on Filman’s Bayou the day’s route would take us down Pasco County’s shoreline marking waypoints and points of interest with a global positioning system (GPS). The intent of the trip was to put eyes on the scenic parts of our coastline and record the information to put in a blueways brochure. Paddlers visiting Pasco could use it to navigate the pristine coastline in a modern fashion.

With our own laminated maps and paddles in hand the modern day Lewis and Clark (Buckman and Caum) set out to cover as much coastline as we could before becoming worn out or blown in. The wind did get the better part of us later in the trip.
One of the amazing things about kayaking or paddle boarding is life moves along at a pace where you can enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Being on the water doing 40 miles an hour is thrilling, but at two miles an hour, it puts things into a different perspective. As our ancestors explored the coast and rivers of the New World from paddle driven craft, they had an insight into the “real” experience.
This paddle was the same kind of experience for us, except for the hand held Garmin GPS. Paddling this piece of the Nature Coast is the “real” Florida coastline. The area from Filman’s Bayou to Sea Pines Channel and down to Hudson Beach was great for viewing bottom dwellers, rays, shovel-nosed sharks, horseshoe crabs, and large variety of baitfish. We left the bayou on a low slack tide, so we figured we would have to walk across a couple of the spits and we did. We hit No Name Channel ninety minutes after we set out. That put us 4.38 miles into the paddle. We determined the time and the coordinates. 
We pulled onto Hudson Beach to stretch at Robert Strickland Memorial Park. This stop was right at two hours into the paddle and had we left at 10 a.m. (instead of 8 a.m.) we could have walked into Sam’s for lunch before re-launching. Day paddlers take note, after a two-hour paddle, a break for refreshments and two more hours would be a perfect paddling day.
Just shy of seven miles into the trip, we headed to mark Signal Cove Channel.  After that, we came to the north border to Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, at N28 degrees 20.567 minutes/West 082 degrees, 43.100 minutes, just a 38-minute paddle from Hudson Beach.  We then proceeded to mark each of the fresh water exits from the park that are navigable from the Gulf.  These will be key features on the blueways brochure once we get it into production.
We continued down the coast, jotting down waypoints on the maps on our laps. Four hours into the adventure, we hit the entrance to Salt Springs Bayou the main water entrance point to the pristine park. The coordinates for the mouth of the entrance are North 28 degrees 17.600 minutes/West 082 degrees 44.182 minutes. The mouth of the entrance, six miles from Hudson Beach, is dotted with oysters beds, so do not attempt this on a low or extreme low tide. Paddling into the park is easiest if you have an incoming tide.
For the remainder of the endeavor we worked our way down to Brasher Park in Port Richey (N28 degrees, 17.166 minutes/West 082 degrees, 44.182 minutes) to stop for the day. The wind had picked up from the northwest and was making it difficult to stay offshore and on course. Brasher Park has an easy launch and take-out point and it’s just a mile from the entrance to the Salt Springs.
Over the course of the day, we paddled more than four hours  (we were on the water for 5 hours and 22 minutes total), covered 12.5 miles of coastline at an average speed of 2.2 miles per hour.
Next trip for the dynamic duo: The remaining eight miles of the Pasco coastline and more information for our blueways brochure.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Anclote Lighthouse Tour and History

Last week during our Pasco County Outdoor FAM Tour we visited Anclote Key and the lighthouse. The lighthouse sits on the southern tip of Anclote Key, at the mouth of the Anclote River.  Historically, it is known for its sponges which are found on the bottom of the Anclote River and other places. Currently the State is revitalizing the area. But you can still make your way to island by boat and explore the beautiful surroundings.

If you head out this Memorial Day weekend here is a little refresher on the history. Anclote Key is a pristine slice of the Florida's yesteryear. The word Anclote is a Spanish word meaning anchor. The island is about 180 acres and around four miles long, and almost a mile wide.

The park is actually made up of four islands and continues to grow as sand accumulates along its length.  The islands are Anclote Key, North Anclote Bar, South Anclote bar and Three Rooker Island.  Anclote Key is the northernmost island of the 320-mile chain or barrier islands which protect much of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Anclote Key Preserve State park has been preserved in a primitive state. Since it is accessible only by boat and is remote, the island attracts many birds that tend to avoid human contact, making the park a key destination for bird watchers. The park is home to at least 43 species of birds, including the American oystercatcher, bald eagle and piping plover.

Camping is available on the North end of the island along with picnic pavilions and grills. Visitors must bring water and supplies as there are no provisions on the island. Plenty of sunscreen and bug spray is also recommended. Camping is free but before you go call 727-469-5942 and check in.

Anclote Key is very damp and marshy, which makes it hard to travel around unless you walk along the sand beaches. Barefoot is best! The color of the water resembles that of the Florida Keys because it is a turquoise-color. The island's eastern side has no beach. Instead, it has mangroves and mud, almost like quicksand.

The western side, however, has a beautiful white sand beach and is a popular place for locals to sunbath and enjoy water sports. We hope to see you there!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pasco County FAM Tour This Week

The Office of Tourism Development is promoting Pasco County the old fashioned way this week, by word-of-mouth. A four-day trip from May 17-20, called the “Outdoor” FAM Tour, for travel writers will promote and allow the journalists to experience some of the County’s best attractions.

This is the first tour Pasco County has conducted in six years and the itinerary planned will showcase Pasco's brand as an outdoor sports and travel destination. 

The FAM Tour participants are traveling from as far away as North Carolina, Utah and Tennessee to experience Pasco County. Two are in-state residents and one, Terry Tomalin, is an outdoors writer for the St. Petersburg Times, but he also contributes as a Visit Florida Insider in many online and print publications. 

A total of five writers and photo journalists have been published in many notable publications including Adventure World Magazine, Explore Compete Live Website, Outdoor Sport Guide Magazine, The Travelling Adventurer Magazine and

The  tour will help promote all of the great outdoor Pasco adventures, accommodations and dining experiences we have here.

The FAM Tour will show off attractions such as J.B. Starkey Park, Saddlebrook Resort, Florida Backwater Charters (flats fishing), Giraffe Ranch, Werner-Boyce Salt Springs Park, Red Balloon Adventures, Miss Daisy Boat Tours and Skydive City.

Traveling all over the county, participants will eat at fine establishments including Kafe Kokopelli, Lonzalo’s Pizzeria and Ristorante, Havana Dreamer, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dempsey’s Too, Pappas Ranch and a visit to Florida Estates Winery.

Accommodations are being provided by Homewood Suites, Saddlebrook Resort and Pasco County Parks and Recreation rustic Starkey Cabins. So if you see the Pasco County Tourism Van traveling about you know that there are tourists and journalists on board.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Tourism Week in Pasco County

Pasco County has planned activities to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, May 7-15.  The schedule includes festivals, recognition, a Travel Expo visit and a Promote Pasco Workshop.  Culminating the week of events is the Blueberry Jerry Jamboree and the Cotee River Seafood Festival and Boat Show, May 13-15.

The week begins on May 9, with the unveiling of the new van wrap as part of the County’s Tourist Development Plan 2010-2014 marketing initiatives. The Board of County Commissioners will sign a resolution on Tuesday, May 10, declaring May 7-15, Pasco County Tourism Week.  After the recognition the Office of Tourism Development will head north to the Visitors’ Center on I-75 to promote Pasco County and welcome visitors to Florida.

Thursday, May 12, is the highlight of the week when the Special Event Grant application process for Fiscal Year 2011/12 is launched. The kickoff coincides with the Promote Pasco Workshop at the Hampton Inn & Suites, in Wesley Chapel. The free workshop is designed to assist event planners and tourism stakeholders in marketing Pasco County as a travel and sports destination. Topics will include mobile marketing, websites, social media, video and print advertising.  To reserve a space at the workshop or receive a Special Event Grant application package, including all requirements, call (727) 847-8129.

On Friday, it’s a visit to the Villages Travel Expo in Ocala to promote Pasco County. In addition, the inaugural Blueberry Jerry Jamboree begins as well as the traditional Cotee River Seafood Festival and Boat Show. For more information on these events please go to or follow Pasco County Tourism on Facebook.